Course Outline Music Course Outline
Teaching is provided through lectures, seminars and supervisions. In your first year, you can typically expect to have six lectures, three supervisions, and aural and keyboard skills classes each week. In later years, lectures decrease to make way for more seminar, small-group and one-to-one teaching.
Assessment takes place at the end of each year through written examinations; the submission of portfolios, compositions essays and dissertations; and through recitals.
Year 1 (Part IA)
The first year consists of three major components:
- historical and critical studies – two and a half papers covering issues involved in understanding music and its relationship to society and culture. This includes the main historical developments of Western music from the medieval period to the present, and a selection of historical or contemporary case studies
- tonal skills – two papers giving you a thorough technical grounding in music of the Western tonal tradition through the acquisition of basic harmonic skills at the keyboard, aural work, and writing music in a range of historical styles. This is a foundation for more advanced work in all musical fields
- music analysis – one paper that gives you an understanding of what makes music work through hands-on familiarity with a range of styles. This creates a bridge between your work in historical and critical studies and in tonal skills
For your final half paper, you have the choice of giving a 15 minute recital, submitting an original composition, or writing an extended essay.
Year 2 (Part IB)
You take a further paper in each of the core Part IA areas (historical studies, analysis and applied tonal skills), which together take up half of your time.
For the remaining half, you choose three papers from a range of different topics. Subjects available change from year to year but normally include:
- in-depth historical topics
- jazz and popular music
- keyboard skills
- music and science
- performance studies (including recital)
- a dissertation of 5,000-7,000 words
Year 3 (Part II)
In the final year, you have even more choice. There are no compulsory papers – you choose six papers from a wide selection of options which reflect your own interests and which may also develop the skills and knowledge needed for your chosen career path. Examples of options available in recent years include:
- advanced performance
- a dissertation of 7,000-10,000 words
- portfolios in analysis, composition and notation, and sources studies
- Beethoven: the Late String Quartets
- The Music of Miles Davis
- Exploring Music Psychology
- Parisian Polyphony
- The Music Industry in the Digital Age
- Nationalism and Music in the Middle East
- North Indian Classical Music
- Latin American Music and the Politics of Representation
- Mozart’s Figaro in Context
- Boris Godunov and its Contexts
- Perception and Performance
You can also work with individual staff members on your own projects, whether as an advanced performer, composer, historian, analyst, ethnomusicologist, or music scientist. In this way, while our course gives you the solid understanding of the subject which a music degree should guarantee, it also offers you the flexibility you need to prepare for life after Cambridge.
For further information about studying Music at the University of Cambridge see the Faculty of Music website.